If we break down the message of the Gospel and look at it as an outsider might, it really is a foolish message.
A young girl gets pregnant before her wedding. The baby doesn’t belong to her fiance, but he marries her anyway. When she goes into labour, the only place they could find to stay was a stable. The kid grows up with his mother and adoptive father and trains in the family business—carpentry. He causes a bit of a ruckus, but by all accounts (and they are few), he’s a normal kid. At the age of thirty, he decides to make a bit more of a stir and hand-selects a group of people to follow him. Commercial fisherman and social outcasts are among those selected. This man from nowhere special then travels around with his little group and pretty much stirs up the religious people. He says things that are contrary to what they believe and he hangs out with people no one should be hanging out with. He performs all sorts of miracles—which many would have attributed to witchcraft. By the end of three years, he’s earned himself an execution. When he’s dead, all that’s left of his three years of wandering the countryside are a few men and a handful of weeping women.
Great story. No wonder so many people won’t listen to it! But that’s not the end.
This strange man with a contrary message didn’t stay dead. He came back to life in glorious fashion and continued to share his message with his followers for another forty days before disappearing. He disappeared.
This is the great message we are supposed to share with the world.
When people want to tell a story about one man saving the world, they send a superhero. Someone with extraordinary strength, power, and character. Someone with skills and abilities that go beyond being able to swing a hammer and tell a great story. They tell a story about an invincible hero who will always be around to save the day.
Our hero died. On purpose.
It is the fact that Jesus walked into his own death that makes our hero’s story the most extraordinary. He didn’t do what people expected of him. He did more.
I know very well how foolish the message of the cross sounds to those who are on the road to destruction. But we who are being saved recognize this message as the very power of God.
1 Corinthians 1:18 (NLT)
In order to be the hero that saved the day once and for all, Jesus had to do things differently.
Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never find him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save all those who believe.
1 Corinthians 1:21 (NLT)
The world may see our message as foolish (void of understanding or sound judgement; weak in intellect; unwise; imprudent; acting without judgement or discretion in particular things; ridiculous; despicable), but there is far more wisdom in it than anything the world could ever come up with.
This “foolish” plan of God is far wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is far stronger than the greatest of human strength.
1 Corinthians 1:25 (NLT)
God deliberately chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose those who are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important, so that no one can ever boast in the presence of God.
1 Corinthians 1:27-29 (NLT)
We can look at this story of salvation as the world might—a sad one of a strange leader and his motley crew that somehow managed to do enough to have their story told for millennia. Or we can see it for what it really is—an incredible story of sacrifice and salvation. The story of the world’s greatest hero born in the most humble of circumstances. The story of one man who gave up his own life not for his glory, but the glory of his Father and the salvation of the world.
God alone made it possible for you to be in Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made Christ to be wisdom itself. He is the one who made us acceptable to God. He made us pure and holy, and he gave himself to purchase our freedom.
1 Corinthians 1:30 (NLT)
Our story doesn’t end with death. It continues with life. Life everlasting.
Not so foolish, is it?
Daily Bible reading: Psalm 112-115, 1 Corinthians 1